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Serena & Lily Land

By Jennifer Cramer-Miller

Dear Serena & Lily,

I realize you’re a home goods catalog I receive in the mail; I do. But you’re so much more. “Breezy California Style” pops from your pages as furniture, bedding and beautiful things. 

When I pull you from my Minnesota mailbox, you’re an instant vacation to fantasy island. 

When I travel to Serena & Lily land, a wash of sunny color and coastal wicker eases my soul. Your tagline says it all. A fresh approach to home. Fresh, indeed. Crisp white backdrops with cornflower blue and textures galore. Cane-backed chairs, jute rugs, bamboo forks and knives, for goodness’ sake. In this alternate catalog universe, every guest room enjoys bedside flowers!

Ironically (being that my mailman delivers this world), I have ZERO mail when I live in this imaginary place. Mail is something to contend with, but there’s no contending going on here. No granola crumbs after my husband’s breakfast to wipe off the counter into the sink. No dog hair poofs collect in corners. No refrigerator for which to hunt out the stray, stinky vegetable. Not here in the land of inspired perfection.

You know what else is so lovely about this mini-vacation from reality? I never wake up like a horse out of the gate, trying to run mighty fast to the day’s finish line and get ‘er done? No, not here. Never here.

In this land, I wake up raring to go, with nothing to do but luxuriate in my white filtered life of ease and contentment. No emails and phone texts accumulate into a mighty mound. No piles of files taunt me with insistent deadlines.

How could my brain be in overload while enjoying permanently pretty place settings and cloudless days? It never rains in Serena & Lily land. That would be unacceptable. Why, it’d kill the gorgeous light that filters through clear windows to illuminate the loveliness. Note to self: clean your windows. 

And come on. Serena, Lily, let’s talk about cleaning. There is not a single spec of clutter in your world. No magazines ready for recycling. No soon-to-be-discovered can of 2019 tomato sauce buried in the pantry. No junk drawer, crammed with chapsticks, hair binders, old photographs, band-aids, golf tees and stray homeless caps. Can you imagine? Marie Kondo’s got nothing on you, Serena & Lily. 

And I must say, as an aside, what lovely names you have. Serena & Lily, conjuring serenity and a delightful flower. In my Midwest world, I welcome your catalog like a Pacific coast breeze. If you could take it a step further, please visit me in person and usher in that no-stress, no-mess freshness throughout my home. It’s a tall order because you’ll have to eliminate all the tidbits and tasks of my daily existence, but if you can swing it (this goes without saying) I’ll promise to place fresh flowers by your bedside tables. 

Oh, darn. Like all good things, my Serena & Lily vacation must end. Close the catalog. Emails await. My phone buzzes. A frantic to-do list beckons, and I spy an errant oat crumb on the counter. But rest assured, Serena & Lily, I’ll soak up your crisp, clean, chaos-free imaginary existence again soon. Because who amongst us can resist a lovely escape?

- Jennifer Cramer-Miller

Jennifer Cramer-Miller is a freelance writer and custom home consultant in the Twin Cities. Follow her latest essays at She is the author of the forthcoming memoir, An Incurable Optimist, and her published pieces are found in Brevity, The Sunlight Press, Grown & Flown, The Kindness Blog, The NKF Kidney Stories MN, The Erma Bombeck Blog and Mamalode.

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